The People Who Wanted To Be Other People

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U.S. National Archives

To begin at the beginning; at the beginning, there were the people who liked themselves the way that they were. But there were not as many of these people as you would think — they were scarce, you might say; scanty, you might say; the world was not very profligate in creating them. There were not as many of them as you would think, but there were a few of them.

And these people, who were named things like Matt and Samantha and James, they would wake up in the morning, and do you know what then?, here is what then; they would wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, and they would like what they saw in the mirror. Yep; things are A-Okay, they would think, for they were overcome by this seeming madness, this creeping insanity as some might call it, of thinking things were fine just the way that they were. And next, they would go about their day, ride the subway to work or go about the process of house-cleaning, and then they would finish the day, and yet they would feel entirely satisfied still, and not blame themselves for any internal problems — I know, I know, I know. Such confidence, and where did it all come from? Such confidence; and how bold, to scatter confidence to the wind like that, like a dandelion pollinating, scattering seeds to the wind like that.

From where did it come and then where did it go to, this confidence like that? Wither goest thou, confidence? For soon enough, very soon enough these people, these Jameses and Samanthas and So-ons and So-ons of the world, they began thinking and in thinking there grew a different sort of pollination, a different sort of root of evil that then in time became the source of all the world’s troubles.

For to think, and then to think every day, this was trouble. For in thinking comes staring, and soon enough these people might one day wake up, say the morning after a party, a party that they had hosted even, and the party had been a success, had come off well, and they had been witty and made many a bon mot, but then in the next morning in the bathroom with the flush and whirl of the toilet, then what? Flush, curl of water, white porcelain, a spiral of clear water on top of white porcelain and then so nothingness on top of nothingness; bi-level nothingness.

“…What did you say, honey?” they would say to the person in the other room, not quite being able to hear over the flush of the toilet.

And then staring into the mirror. Pulling the eyelid down, to gauge the level of hungover-ness; icky. Fear, doubt. Had they really been so funny last night after all, or had it been all the booze? Doubt; concern.

And you have to imagine, to realize how very few of these people there even were in the first place, these people who liked themselves to begin with, and now doubt, that seed.

These people were so few that they clung to the surface of the world like strands of hair clinging to a bald man’s head, so few then, in patches, holding on to the world, a couple of ants on a blue balloon, and then with all this thinking.

And so the few withered away into nothing. Because there is always room for improvement, is there not? …Are we not told this by friends, by neighbors, by strangers, family, by distant well-wishers, there is always room for improvement. “The party went okay last night right honey?” and in this the seed of doubt and bang it’s all over right there.

There is always room for improvement. In this single sentence we contain, we refine; we essence-ify the essence of all human misery. Distill it the way that amber-thick brandy is distilled from wine. Don’t you think? Anyway, and so, and so these were still the people who were happy with themselves the way that they were. Or at least who were pleased with themselves the way that they were, for a moment, for a while.

But wouldn’t it be better to be someone else? Just for a second, only for a second.

Say a celebrity, a movie star, actor or actress. Attractive Actor A wouldn’t have made a dumb joke at that party last night. James Franco, the actor, he would have served better canapés last night. Mila Kunis the actress, she would have served better canapés last night. Or a model. Or just anyone. Just anyone wouldn’t have done that last night; I did that last night however.

And so the people who liked themselves sort of the way they were became the people who wanted to be someone else, which is what most people, almost everyone, what almost everyone was already, anyway. They joined the herd. The world a herd of people wanting to be someone else.

I wish I had a chin like the guy who lives next door, not the old guy two houses down, but the younger one three houses down, with the good chin, and also abs from jogging. If I had a chin and abs like that I would be happy, happy, I would sexually satisfy my wife, and being sexually satisfied, she would become quiescent, more pliable, and would stop nagging me about the chores and also the getting of a better job all of the time, and then, then I would be happy and then, then the kids would be happy — happiness would descend, spreading, though mostly I would be the one who was happy.”

Happiness descending like rose petals flowering the earth by floating down on the earth; happiness via and by having a stronger chin and then maybe some abs? Like the guy next door, three houses down.”

And it was hard to think thoughts like this all the time, but then never being able to vocalize these thoughts, much, much harder. With you wanting a bigger chin and the girl next door wanting bigger tits, and then the guy over there wanting a bigger car and that one wanting a different one to be married to or to have an affair with and all this wanting, wanting, wanting, and never the vocalizing of the wanting, it could kill you, really, if you stopped to think about it. All these people becoming the people who wanted to be someone else. Everyone everywhere, models, dreaming, James Franco the actor dreaming of being a different actor Mila Kunis the actress dreaming of being Marilyn Monroe Taylor Swift the singer dreaming of being Madonna, the president dreaming of being Abraham Lincoln; and all this dreaming, dreaming, dreaming and never any saying of the dreams. And so think about this, you, as you say stand outside your garage on a Sunday, say, cleaning the car say, hosing down the car say.

Or think about it when you are doing something else; at work or cleaning the house or mopping or eating, everything. All this dreaming. You dreaming of the being the girl next door as the guy next door dreams this and that. All these dreams crossing, their paths intersecting, crossing, but the dreams never being conscious: as the dreams crossed paths they did not know each other, were not self-aware, and so everyone alone in their prison, you dreaming of being another as someone somewhere dreams of being you, someone might dream of being the exact same you. TC mark

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